Thursday, July 22, 2010

Darlie Routier: Vicious Mother or Tragic Victim?

by Diane Fanning

Every time a television program involving Tommy Lynn Sells or one of his crimes is broadcast, I receive emails asking if he could have been in Rowlett, Texas, on June 6, 1996--the day seven-year-old Devon Routier and his five-year-old brother Damon died. These questions began within days of the release of my book about Sells in April 2003 and have continued unabated since then.
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The boys were murdered in the middle of the night, Sells' favored time for homicide. Someone had plunged a knife into their chests, puncturing their lungs. A weapon Sells was known to use often.

The boys' mother, Darlie, who had fallen asleep with them on the floor in front of the television, also had wounds. Although hers were not life-threatening, they were definitely beyond superficial. One cut damaged the sheath surrounding her carotid artery but did not sever that vital link to life. With a little emergency care, she was soon able to stand on the front porch in her bloody nightgown and tell her story of the events in her home.

Darlie said that she awakened when the man made physical contact with her. It was
at that moment, she realized her children had been harmed. She fought him off, he dropped his knife, he raced toward the garage. She described him as medium height, dressed in black and wearing a ball cap. After giving her statement, she was taken to the hospital. (above left)

This scenario bore a lot of similarity to the murder of 10-year-old Joel Kirkpatrick and the wounds inflicted on his mother Julie Rea Harper. As a result when an episode about Julie and Joel's case aired on Unusual Suspects, an Investigation Discovery show, a couple of weeks ago, I was deluged with dozens of emails asking once again about Sells' whereabouts.

The similarities went beyond the time of night, the viciousness of the attack, dead sons and injured mothers. In Darlie's case, two unidentified bloody fingerprints were found--one in the house, one in the garage--but prosecution witnesses testified that all the prints found belonged to Darlie or her boys. In Julie's case, investigators found a bloody footprint on a piece of cardboard in the bedroom. It was far too large to be Joel's footprint and even too large to belong to his mother. The prosecutor in Illinois concealed this evidence from the defense.

In both cases, there were items available for DNA testing. In both cases, the prosecutor fought this testing. This is a stance I cannot understand and cannot accept. I've heard all the arguments justifying this behavior, but I am not moved. If it is your mission is to uncover truth and seek justice, should you ever fight learning a fact? No. I expect more from prosecutors--much more.

Both Julie and Darlie were found guilty of murder in the death of their sons--a conviction that if wrongfully rendered was the cruelest fate that could ever befall any mother who loses a child to violence. Julie was sentenced to sixty-five years behind bars. Darlie was given the death penalty.

When Sells confessed to me that he murdered young Joel Kirkpatrick, a door was opened for Julie Rea Harper. I put it in my book and between the work of the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois at Springfield and the Center for Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University, Julie got a new trial. Julie was acquitted and released from jail.

I know, without the shadow of doubt and beyond any concerns, that Julie Rea Harper did not murder her son. I am strongly inclined to believe that Tommy Lynn Sells did commit this crime, just as he said.

As for Darlie, I'm not convinced of her guilt or innocence. I am certain that there are many questions that need to be answered before we can possibly put her to death with a clear conscious.

There is only one thing I know absolutely about the deaths of Devon and Damon--those murders cannot be laid at Tommy Lynn Sells' feet. He was in a penitentiary in West Virginia serving a sentence for assaulting Fabienne Witherspoon, a woman who fought back and survived his brutal knife attack.

If not Sells, then who? The obvious answer is that it could be Darlie. But that is not the only answer. As Texas Ranger Coy Smith once told me: "If you knew how many people like Sells were roaming across the country at any given time, it would blow the skirt right up over your head."

Maybe Darlie did kill her sons. Maybe it was one of those drifters Smith mentioned. Maybe.

Shouldn't that question be answered with certainty before we allow the state to take Darlie's life?

32 comments:

Leah said...

I feel the same way you do about Darlie. There is definitely reasonable doubt and more should be done to try and find the truth. She definitely shouldn't die for this unless these questions can be cleared up. Too many innocent individuals have already been put to death and released from prison. Seems like someone out there with the skill and resources would reopen her case and work it until we could be satisfied with an answer.

Anonymous said...

I watched a program on "TV the other day that gave me two pieces of information that I had not heard before. There were photos of the bruises to Darlie's arms that the jury was not allowed to see. Those photos were so hideous and not bruises that one could do to themselves. Two of her jurors said that if they had seen those photos, they would never have convicted her. The second thing is that there was a palm print at the crime scene that did not belong to any person from the house that could be expected, i.e., unidentifiable.

The program talked about how difficult it is to get a new trial in Texas, regardless of the new evidence. They would rather kill an innocent person than admit that they are wrong.

Heidi Moan said...

Hello there! My name is Heidi and I come from Norway . I am an activist and pen pal. I am also Darlie Lynn's friend. I just wanna say I believe in her. NOT because of her being my friend. BUT out of 2 things. Her evidence, and her persona. This to me confirms things. Darlie was granted a solidd amount of DNA testings in 2008. A few from Texas and a lot more from federal courts. We still await them being done. This to me shows that the authorities are far from convinced of her guilt, otherwise she would never ever have gotten all this. THERE WERE NONE conclusive cold hard evidence she did it. NONE. It is inexcusable to sentence people to DEATH on circumstancial evidence. Which happens all the time. IT is also INEXCUSABLE to defy inmates requesting DNA testings. For more about what I do :Focus on Women : http://www.thehudsonsmemorialdefensefund.webs.com . FOR Darlie's prrof watch this please:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcQiedr_Fek

Thank you all for your attention, and have a great weekend!

Heidi

Diane Fanning said...

SInce I live in Texas, I am aware of the innocent who have been executed here. I certainly do not want Darlie added to that list.
Thanks to all of you for your comments.

Connie said...

I don't know if Darlie is guilty or innocent, I just don't want to see her put to death or be in prison if She is innocent.

Heavenly81969 said...

I just think she is innocent .the wounds she had ,I just dont think she did them to herself. This is why I donot like the DP- they execute her,find out she really was innocent , then what? OOPS?
this my gmail account. I am ceegee.

Diane Fanning said...

Hi, ceegee and Connie. It is difficult to give back someone's life to them when they've been wrongfully incarcerated. I imagine no matter how compensated, there are still lost or stolen years that no amount of money or apologies can give you back again. Execution is even worse-there is no way to say you're sorry to a deceased person.

Don/searcher5 said...

For law enforcement, on a crime scene, opinions and personal thoughts about a crime are left at the street. They have no place when gathering evidence. I hate it when prosecutors try to decide things of this nature before they are even provided the investigators package. Having evidence that doesn't fit, simply means there is doubt. No death penalty for that.

Anonymous said...

Under the moon and darkness slink "things"we should be very scared of.
I've never been convinced Darlie did this. As far as the birthday party every one hangs her with...we did the same thing with my cousin's son.He's been gone 22 years now and we still have his birthday party with all the things he loved. One being fire crackers. It's his day and tho he's gone and will never grow older his mother and father need the party. Not everyone understands but we don't care. He's our loved one and he was taken.

There are pieces that don't fit in this case and the truth and the whole truth needs to come out.

Liz Parsons...Ga.

Gia said...

Like Heidi, I too am a friend of Darlie's. However, we became friends after her conviction so friendship is NOT the reason I believe in her. In fact it is the unbelievable and overwhelming evidence pointing to her innocence that compels me to believe she is sitting on death row an innocent woman. It is bad enough she was even arrested on the evidence the authorities had but a death sentence is heinous! What is the state of Texas so afraid of? If they are so very sure of her guilt then they should not be so against a new trial. I encourage anyone who is not familiar with this case to review the evidence available on Darlie's web site at www.fordarlieroutier.org and www.justicefordarlie.net I would bet a million dollars that you will at least have sincere doubts and question her conviction if not 100% believe in her innocence!!

A Voice of Sanity said...

Why would she kill just two of her sons and not the third child? Why would she do it with her husband in the house? Are there any similar cases with one or both of these peculiarities?

What about the sock bandit? How much investigation of him was done?

This case stinks!

Anonymous said...

There is overwhelming evidence of Darlie's guilt. That's what her jury saw and that's why she was convicted. She killed her boys..no one else did.

The only doubts are in the minds of her supporters. Whom, I might add, have never read her trial transcripts in their entirety. Answer this question. The two partial prints are on opposite sides of the house. If they were an alleged intruders why is there no blood trail in between the prints?

Anonymous said...

"Darlie said that she awakened when the man made physical contact with her."

This is another version of Darlie's story. She tells it differently on her website.

As I am a mother of two, I personally don't ever want to believe that a mother could do this to her children. Unfortunately, we have seen MANY women who have done just that. MURDER. Murder is insane and emotional and there is no way to rationalize it.

I have read the transcripts, read the reports, and read Darlie's account of what took place many times. I'm not convinced there was an intruder.

The truth never changes and it always comes to the surface. I believe there is nothing more to find.

A Voice of Sanity said...

Anonymous said: Unfortunately, we have seen MANY women who have done just that. MURDER.

Find some other cases where a woman has murdered 2 of 3 children in the same action and done it while her husband was in the house.

Susan Hamel said...

I thank you for returning my message. I hope they do find out what really happened when Darlie and her boys were stabbed. I wouldn't want an innocent person put to death as your feelings are the same. I hope something comes to light. Thank you again.

Anonymous said...

Great article on Darlie, I'm so glad you wrote it. take care and keep writing..

Elizabeth

coledean71 said...

Obviously all those who think she is innocent are watching the tv shows that conveniently leave out how they debunked all of the doubts to her guilt. And even if you don't consider that, imagine this: They bring her in for questioning for the last time, and accuse her 5 times in the interview of killing her children. All five times her answer was "If I did it, I don't remember" C'mon people!!! What kind of an answer is that? Its the answer of a guilty as hell person grasping at straws, thinking, ok, they know it's me, now I will play crazy.

A Voice of Sanity said...

coledean71 said: "They bring her in for questioning for the last time, and accuse her 5 times in the interview of killing her children. All five times her answer was "If I did it, I don't remember" C'mon people!!! What kind of an answer is that?"

It's the answer you get from the "Reid technique", a method police are trained to use and which, all too often, leads to false confessions. It is quite notorious for this.

Widely used police interrogation technique can result in false confession (LINK)

Quote: "The judges in the cases had harsh words about the Reid technique. In Alberta, the judge called it a "huge psychological brainwashing exercise." And in Manitoba, a judge called the technique "repugnant to society's sense of decency," and urged police to stop using it.
In Britain, some of the tactics used in the Reid technique aren't allowed by the courts."

You train cops to cheat, you get bad results.

Anonymous said...

i would not have a problem with her being on death row if it was not for the fact that lots of the evidence was blocked from her trial. why not let the photos of her injuries b presented? it does not matter to me that 2 prints were found at opposite ends of the home. as for the blood trail supposedly not being there, i do not exactly trust that the scene was not compromised. in 1996 dna testing was still relatively a new concept. and i read the court transcripts in full. they are disturbing. it almost looks like an attempt by law enforcement to blame her and protect the real killer. i would not be surprised if he was some judges son or the son of another high ranking official

Anonymous said...

i guess its easier to say she did it than actually look for the real killer. and that person is right, dna testing was still in its infancy. sounds like the ramsey case in which they put the parents mostly the mother thru hell trying to blame her. she died without any justice for her daughter. i wonder if darlie would get an unbiased trial even now. i am sure the evidence has been so compromised that it probably wont reveal anything useful.

Kelly Dutton said...

I believe Tommy Lynn Sells killed the Routier boys.There is a similar case to the Routier case where a mom was convicted of killing her son and released from prison.Joel Kirkpatrick was a murder victim of Tommy Lynn Sells.His mother Julie was wrongfully accused in Illinois.
Read about the victims of the state on this website. http://www.victimsofthestate.org/CC/IMM.htm

Anonymous said...

What makes you people think that her injuries could not have been self inflicted? You are referring to a woman whom was convicted BEYOND a REASONABLE DOUBT for murdering her children. Any person whom can take the life of their own child is capable of doing anything to themselves. Paramedics "patched" her up and left her with police to give statements. Obviously she had no life threatening injuries. Bruising always looks bad days later. Tommy Sells was in PRISON during the Routier murders. How can any person sleep through a child/person being stabbed right next to you and not wake up? How could the dog have never barked or noticed a stranger?

A Voice of Sanity said...

Anonymous said: "What makes you people think that her injuries could not have been self inflicted?"

Common sense. "Darlie was stabbed repeatedly, her throat slashed within 2mm of her carotid artery." I suggest you look up what 2 mm is. It's about 1/16 inch.

Anonymous said: "You are referring to a woman whom was convicted BEYOND a REASONABLE DOUBT for murdering her children."

Hundreds have been released from prison for crimes they did not commit. Far too many have been released from death row.

EVERY ONE was convicted "beyond a reasonable doubt" by juries, often by more than one.
EVERY ONE of these was confirmed by multiple courts, often by very hostile judges.
EVERY ONE of these people was WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

The Routier case is nothing but reasonable doubt.

Diane Fanning said...

Kelly, Tommy Lynn Sells could NOT have killed Darlie's boys. He was in a penitentiary in West Virginia at the time they were killed.

Anonymous said...

It amazes me how supporters keep saying the jury should have seen the bruise pictures...they did folks. Even her defense team acknowledges that..to this day. Why that one (of 12 I should point out) juror said they didn't see it, nobody knows.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing what the money, friends and power can do: your are Darlie's friends it is obvious you will say you believe her (even though your minds know, she is guilty)
It is evident for everyone that Darlie killed her children: everything in the crime scene tells that: you want to create confussion about that by some "eidences" that are out of order.
DArlie will have what she deserves.

Anonymous said...

I remember when this happened, and she is guilty!
Her third child was sleeping upstairs, is why he was not attacked. And, she may have been trying to kill herself and when it didn't work, changed her mind. I've heard of that happening before.
She was convicted and she is guilty!!!

A Voice of Sanity said...

"I remember when this happened, and she is guilty!"

Yeah, sure, and I'll be JLo's next husband. And the tooth fairy. NOT!

Jo Rose said...

Why didn't the dog bark? If you can answer this question with logic, you will have pushed me more towards her innocence.

A Voice of Sanity said...

Who says it didn't bark? But dogs are not security systems and I wouldn't execute anyone based on a dog barking or not.

Anonymous said...

Thankfully I was able to get through this and see that people have left comments about the jury seeing the photo's of Darlie's injuries/bruises. The jury saw them. You folks understand that her injuries were a huge part of her defense... right? And that the defense hired Dr Vincent DiMaio to testify about her injuries? Nothing was withheld from the jury. Nothing.

Wondering how those who support innocence explain the cast off blood on her nightshirt from both children? Or the fact that there was no sign of the bloody knife being dropped by the intruder where Darlie claimed he threw it down. Or no hair, fibers, or blood from a 6ft 200lb man going through a T-cut screen twice?

Thanks, Pamela Collins

Anonymous said...

I think she's guilty; the nasty wounds on her arm and neck could have easily been self inflicted. notice how her neck cut runs diagonally as it is more natural to bring the arm down if self inflicted; also, if the knife didn't reach the artery is because she didn't naturally have enough arm power to do it. the knife kind of slid superficially downward. So, the supposed intruder could kill the children and not a sleeping woman and was such a weakling so as to botch the job with her? I just don't buy it! I wish she was innocent. Oh, and she was emotional, not evil like most sitting on death row.